Forager Brewery’s clientele is definitely an amalgamation of several types of craft beer fans.
Recently, people flew in to Rochester to help at the Gathering in the Wood beer fest and stood in line for the latest barrel-aged releases, Nillerzzzzz and Crema. Some of those people were able to bottle share with some of the Forager team, drinking rare and high-rated beer.
That’s but one side of Forager, located at 1005 6th St. NW. While some breweries popular enough to be nationally known might kowtow to those with a huge social media following or those with beers worth hundreds on the secondary market, Rochester’s well-known spot understands that beer is for everybody. And that feel-good vibe begins with the staff.
“Forager has been great at making a diversified staff, from top to bottom,” server and one-time brewer James Higgs said. “(It) makes it easy for the guest to come and enjoy the atmosphere and environment that we have created here at Forager.”
That atmosphere remains an accepting, open, and eclectic one. Local artwork is in steady rotation in the sunken library section of the brewery. Knick-knacks are used for decoration and serving pieces of pizza made with locally sourced ingredients. And you might not know it, but some of the brewery pieces, like the elephant-adorned bar top, are rooted in Rochester’s history.
All of it makes for an almost surreal, magical vibe, but one that remains true to one philosophy: people should have fun and feel accepted.
“I’ve worked many jobs – more than I can count on two hands – and Forager by far has been one of my favorites,” Haley Pearson said. “Annie (Henderson, Forager owner) has created a place that most days doesn’t feel like work. Sometimes it feels weird getting a paycheck when I get to listen to great music, drink beer, and eat food that is sourced mostly locally. And the patrons that come are just as awesome as the staff. They are kind and share a lot of the same interests in good beer, food, and music.”
Having a happy staff usually equates to having one that treats patrons well.
“It’s rare to see a customer upset at Forager,” Pearson said. “And it’s fun to see returning customers from near and far return. (It) makes my job fun because you develop relationships and end up genuinely interested in their lives. It really is a place that embodies joy.”
There are a number of ways to partake in Forager’s beer scene. Of course, there is trivia, but there are also beer dinners. These usually entail an intimate night of a five-course meal, with foods paired with different Forager beer or local wines.
And if you sit at the bar, chances are – if the staff isn’t too busy – they’ll talk to you about the day. Pearson and Higgs are always eager to meet new people and swap stories.
What’s even more unique to the community vibe is the aforementioned beer release. Last release saw a lot of new faces come to town. And while this is anecdotal, I could tell that everyone who hadn’t experienced waiting in line at Forager (similar to waiting in line at most releases) got to enjoy bottle shares and meeting new people.